Page images


The Virginia State


Thursday, February


Preparations for the

were represented by dis- | have taken. The good effect of the measures unionists of a particularly adopted had been evident from the moment virulent character, with of the arrival of the first company. Up to but two or three exceptions. The debates that hour intense excitement prevailed in took a wide range, covering the questions regard to rumored conspiracies and threats of Federal, State and Social relations, and of force; but, the appearance of the military called out talent, in the discussion, which had calmed the public mind, and had given a proved that the "Mother of Presidents" sense of security to the city before wanting. still was the mother of brilliant sons. Sad Preparations for the infor the Old Commonwealth was it that so auguration were announcmany of those sons were drunk with the poison of secession! Like the hasheesh eaters--who, in their ecstacy, built the temples of Xanadu, to dissolve in air when the finger of Fact should thrust their stately pleasuredomes through and through-the Secessionists built temples radiating glory from base to pinnacle, wherein each particular enthusiast was to be enshrined in tablets of gold. But, unlike the visionary of the hempen fumes, their castles required the prick of a bayonet ere they dissolved to leave the insane worshiper a miserable man, contemned even by his own kindred for his heartless and reckless revelry.

The Rhode Island Legislature, by a tie vote, (March 1st,) refused to instruct its Senators, and to request its Representatives, in Congress, to vote for the Peace Conference Propositions.

Mr. Buchanan's Last

The Pennsylvania Legislature adjourned February 28th, to meet again March 12th, without taking any action on the question of instructing its delegation in Congress on the Peace Conference scheme of settlement. The President communicated to Congress his reply to the House resolution, calling upon him for his reasons for assembling so large a force of military in Washington at that time. His answer was an embodiment of the facts set forth in the letter of Secretary Holt to the President, February 18th, [see pages 364-66.] The force, he submitted, was not so large as the resolution presupposed, being but 683 effective troops, whom he had summoned as a posse comitatus, to preserve peace and order before and during the inauguration, should any violence manifest itself. He defended the gathering of the troops as a precautionary step, which he would have been wanting in duty not to

28th. They embraced a procession-military,
diplomatic, legislative, and civil-of a very
imposing character, as an escort of the Presi-
dent-elect to the Capitol, and, after the cere-
mony of inauguration, as an escort to the
White House. The uniformed militia of the
District were ordered out in full force, while
the regulars of the United States Army were
to be disposed by the commander-in-chief as
his judgment should dictate. A large and
expensive hall had been erected for the Inau-
guration Ball, which was to come off on the
evening of March 4th. The arrangements for
the festivity gave promise of one of the most
brilliant affairs of the kind ever witnessed in
the Capital. All things augured well for a
safe and agreeable instalment of the new
Chief Magistrate.

Belligerent Attitude of the Confederates.

As indicated in chapter XXXI., the Confederate Government had progressed in its organization, (up to March 2d,) so far as to instate its military and civil establishment, while its judiciary was rapidly assuming form and efficiency. A dispatch from Montgomery, March 2d, stated:

"Thirty thousand volunteers are now drilled and under canvas, awaiting orders. Large army provision supplies of all sorts have been purchased recently in Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, and sent to Mobile and New Orleans for distribution."

The safety of a despotism lies in its army. This the revolutionists, so well understood that, almost before the new Government was inaugurated, a military establishment was in operation; and, when Mr. Lincoln became Chief Magistrate, he found not a peaceable revolution to contend with, but one armed and belligerent at all points, proving that violence and defiance were the weapons to be hurled against his administration.



Interest in American

* Mr. Seward is in fa

Vor of doing all those things which he has already

assured us will not save the Union. He is ready to repeal the Personal Liberty acts which trench on the policy of the Fugitive Slave law. He is willing to vote for the amendment of the Constitution de

abolish Slavery by an act of Congress-an amendment utterly futile, since it can always be rescinded by the same power that enacted it. But, lastly, Mr. Seward is willing, when people have grown cool-that is, he says, in two or three years' timeto consent to a Convention to consider any change in the organic laws in regard to Slavery. And this while the steamers of the United States return to batteries; while Charleston threatens Major Ander

THE state of foreign feel- | efforts of the orator. ing during January and February was one of the outside features of the Secession movement which, to a student of the momentous events of 1861, formed not the least interesting epi-claring that henceforth it shall not be lawful to sode of the period. In a previous chapter, [XIV.,] we reproduced the editorial comments of some of the leading London and Paris journals during December and the early part of January. Without exception, they regarded the Secession movement with disfavor, generally regarding it as a scheme for founding a pure Slave Confederacy. As the revolution progressed, the interest of foreigners in our affairs increased-so much so that, by March 4th, the European press was engaged in an active canvass of the entire subject in all its bearings, political, social, and moral, both to the United States and to the Old World. Our system of a Democratic Confederacy was freely commented on, and many were not slow to point to the approaching dissolution of the Union as an evidence of the inherent instability of a Republican


The London Times.

There was, however, in English journalism, a spirit of sympathy with the North of an unmistakable character; while the South, up to March 4th, scarcely found a respectable paper to give its cause even the shadow of a defence. The London Times, without committing itself to either section, laid its blows on both parties sturdily, and told so much truth and untruth, in its overwrought and pungent way, as did not fail to give offence equally to North and South. It thus recurred to Mr. Seward's speech of JanJary 12th, [see pages 187-92:]

"We do not see much to admire in the speech of Mr. Seward. It was meant, no doubt, to be a great success, but fortune has not entirely seconded the

New York disabled by shot fired from Charleston

son with an attack on a fort held by him for the United States; and while the arsenals and forts of the Central Government, left to the care of separate States, are plundered and occupied as the result of a declared secession. This is all that the official adviser of the incoming President can suggest as a remedy for dangers so urgent and so threatening. The thing which has happened is impossible,' and in two or three years we may have a Convention. Alas! in two or three years, for all that Mr. Seward

and his class seem inclined to do to prevent it, the

United States will have drifted into a position not requiring, as now, only a manly resolution for their deliverance, but beyond the reach of the boldest or wisest of mankind to remedy it. In one thing we certainly agree with Mr. Seward-that if he is to be

accepted as a type of the would-be saviors of his country, the Union is not likely to be saved, as he says, by anybody in particular.'"

The same article, however, assumed, with Mr. Seward, that any citizen, or any aggregate of citizens, seeking to destroy a Government, was guilty of treason to that Government. It stated the case thus forcibly :

"The American people have seen fit, acting as a nation and in their collective capacity, to create a Government possessing certain definite powers. The remaining functions of Government they have left to be administered within certain territorial di



visions called States, and to each of these Govern- | arising out of the schism of the Southern States, ments, acting within its proper powers, every American citizen is bound to pay the same obedience as the people of England do to the laws under which they live. Any individual citizen, therefore, seeking to destroy this Central Government, is guilty of treason against it, and the same thing is true of any aggregate of individuals, even should they constitute the majority of the population of a State, or several States. The fact that rebellion takes the form of the secession of a State can make no difference, for, so long as the Central Government confines itself within its own jurisdiction, the State possesses no right whatever against it. The State possesses no greater right collectively than each of its citizens possess individually."

they well know that these perils originate, not from the application or misapplication of the Democratic principle in South Carolina, Georgia or Virginia, but conspicuously and notoriously from its absence in those States. The Southern States are not, and never were Democracies in any sense of the term. The simple truth is, and it cannot be too often repeated, that Virginia, Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and Florida, were each and all expressly founded with oligarchic care and oligarchic aim upon an oli garchic model. All power and privilege were concentrated in the planter caste; and a servile multitude was provided by regal and aristocratic policy by whose unrequited toil the governing few were to subsist. We grieve to be obliged to say that in our estimate of the possible future of America we see cause for the deepest anxiety as to the fate of civilization, social and political, in the devoted re

them from the wise and enlightened rule founded by Adams, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson and Jay. For the destiny of the Free North, with its intelligence and industry, its wealth and invention, its love of equal liberty, and its love of equal law, there is no cause for fear. Inferiority of soil, seaboard and streams, of mineral wealth, and of mountain pasture,

If the same authority, at a later day, demanded the right of the Southern States to secede—demanded their rights as "bellig-gions whose frantic oligarchs are striving to sever erents"-demanded the recognition of their independence—it was simply because it became politic to do so, not that what was treason in January was not equally so in July. The London Daily News (January 22d) also gave its views to the same conclusion. Its statement of the duty of citizens to obey, and the right of Government to enforce obedience, was clear and logically

The London News.


[ocr errors]

· Every American citizen is as directly bound to obey the laws passed by the central power in the exercise of its defined rights, as an Irishman or a Scotchman is bound to obey the laws of the Imperial Parliament. If any number of Irishmen or Scotchmen raised the standard of revolt against the Government, they would all be guilty of treason, but their conduct would not and could not affect the relations of the British with foreign Governments. So it is in the United States: the individual citizens of South Carolina or Alabama who levy war against the Federal Power are all guilty of treason, but their conduct cannot by possibility affect the relations between the United States Government and those of other countries."

The same journal (January 19th) thus generously defended our great Republican “experiment" from the scoffs of those friends of aristocracy who wished well to no reign of the people:

"America is a signal illustration of the worth of representative government. The people of England neither believe nor wish to believe in the ruin of the great Commonwealth of their kindred beyond the ocean; but whatever perils be in store for it,

of sweep of domain and enjoyable climate-the vigorous, fearless, self-reliant North can afford, with a laugh, to admit it all, and yet feel how transcendently stronger and richer, nobler and happier, is its place among the nations. If permanent severance there must be, the world will soon comprehend the

difference between a compact nation of educated, free, and self-dependent citizens, and a community of indolent and insolent proprietors of land living in hourly dread of a herd of slaves."

The London Saturday Review, early in March said, in the course of a very clear and lucid exposé of the secession revolution:

The Saturday Review.

"No event of our day has been half so wonderful as the one before us. Who, à priori, could have believed that in the nineteenth century a new State should be organized, by the grandsons of Englishmen, solely on the principle of preserving and extending a system of Slavery! A more ignoble basis for a great Confederacy it is impossible to conceive, nor one in the long run more precarious. The permanent renunciation of sound principles and natural laws must, in due time, bring ruin. No great career can lie before the Southern States, bound together solely by the tie of having a working-class of negro bondsmen. Assuredly it will be the Northern Confederacy, based on the principle of freedom, with a policy untainted by crime, with a free work

ing-class of white men, that will be the one to go on and prosper, and become the leader of the New World."

The London Star.

The London Morning Star (January 21st) proposed to grant the Slave States the right to secede from the Union, but based its proposition upon such grounds as the Southern States must have repudiated:

"There are thousands of noble-hearted men and

women in the Northern States who have a hearty
hatred of that moral complicity in the barter of
human flesh and blood, which has been forced upon
them by their political organization. They know
that many of the blemishes which the foes of Free-
dom have signalized in their republican institutions
and social condition arise from the presence, in the
consideration of a system essentially anti-republican,
and as hateful to God as it is injurious to man. They
feel that its alliance with the North has been to the
South as that presence of a few good men which
would have induced the Almighty to spare the guilty
city; and that, had the Slave States stood alone,
Slavery would probably before this have been num-
bered among obsolete iniquities. Various consid-
erations may have induced them to refrain from
seeking themselves to break the bond which led to
such disastrous consequences; but now that the
South sues for a divorce, why should they oppose
the prayer? Let the Seceding States carry out
their insane project, and base their new nationality
upon the principle that man has a right of property
in immortal beings; they will soon discover that
they have built their house upon a heap of crum-
bling sand. The blessing of God will assuredly
never rest upon that flag which, in a fair division of
the emblem of the existing Union, should retain the
Stripes without the Stars. If the men of the North
have a clear perception of their duty and of the true
interests of humanity, they will stay the hand
of violence which has already been upraised, aban-
don all idea of coercion, and suffer the South to
sue unchecked its mad career."

The London Econom ist.

| touch the one great interest of their political life. They have cried out so long that all scruples about Slavery are cant and affectation, that they not only believe it, and believe that we believe it, but they even expect us to make a sacrifice of political credit and consistency by avowing our previous insincerity, and this for considerations that would certainly never have induced us to interfere in behalf of Hungary or Italy, whom we did desire to aid with al our hearts. Such infatuation is absolutely appall

ing. It seems to indicate that a kind of monomania blinds the Southern States on all subjects closely

connected with their cotton and their slaves. We doubt if anything we can say will open their eyes. But we are at least bound in the name of the mercantile classes of England to tell them that any proposal to intervene on their behalf in the struggle against the Federal Government of the Union,

would be scouted nowhere with more scorn and indignation than in those districts of England which would benefit most by free trade with the United States."

The reader may express surprise that the same journal, and, doubtless, the same editor, at a later day, became the champion of an English recognition of the Slave Confed. eracy; but, in England as in all the rest of the world, self-interest is all-powerful. It is 80 easy to make Principle sick, and to call in Policy as the doctor!

The London Review,

(March 2d,) organ of the The London Review
aristocracy, pronounced the
Union to be hopelessly dissolved in these

"The United States of America are not in existence. A Free and a Slave Republic occupy their place, and stand side by side; destined to be rivals— perhaps to be enemies; while a third Republic, or

pur-Mountains on the fertile shores of the Pacific, is cerconfederation of Republics, to the west of the Rocky tain to assert its independence at no distant date, and to form the nucleus of another powerful empire. * The disruption of the American Union is as much a fait accompli as the English Revolution of 1688, or the coup d'état that set Napoleon III. upon the throne; and if there be any statesmanship in the North, or in the South, the only wise policy is to acknowledge it, and make the best

The London Economist, in its early consideration of the question-ere King Cotton had whispered its Christian heart asleep and its commercial heart awakegave expression (January 29th) to its views of the subject of recognition, by Great Britain,

of the Seceded States:

"The truly melancholy side of these strange calculations on the part of the Southern States, is the evidence which they give of a completely distorted standard of judgment on all subjects at least that

of it."

[ocr errors]

But the Review entertained little sympathy for the South and its political philosophy. It predicted the early inauguration of a monarchy over the downfall of republicanism:


"It is obvious that Mr. Calhoun's doctrine, carried to its legitimate length, contains within itself the germ of the downfall of Republicanism. Already the slaveholders constitute an oligarchy, and from an oligarchy to a despotism the gradations are not very slow or painful even in times of peace, while they are facile as the descensus averni in periods

of public danger, when war, offensive or defensive, opens the career. of victory to any ambitious and

successful soldier who has audacity enough to snatch at a crown and sceptre. There may be nothing positively new under the sun; but in modern times, or within the record of history, the world has not seen such a Republic, or such a system of government as that which has sprung into existence upon the shores of the Mexican Gulf. Its short history is the marvel of our time, and its continued existence will be one of the most singular problems of our civilization."

[blocks in formation]

"Some are puzzled to know whether the treaties now subsisting between the United States and this country will continue if the Southerners succeed in separating themselves and setting up a Confederation for themselves. Such an event is spoken of as a dissolution of the Union of the States. If the contract had been made between this country and the several States, as States, no doubt the secession of some of them would free the others from the obligation of fulfilling the treaty. But the contract is with the American Union, the subjects of which consist of those who, while they owe it certain duties, owe their own States certain other duties. Even after the British Government lost Smith O'Brien, Mitchel, and Meagher, the treaties with foreign Powers were still binding. So, when Francis II. lost Sicily, or Austria lost Lombardy, the treaties with the Powers not at war continued binding. So it is in America. If the secession succeeds, the Amer

ican Union will lose a certain number of subjects. Nay, more; any European Government will be at perfect liberty to make whatever treaties it pleases with those who have seceded; but the American

Union will still subsist, weakened though it be by the loss of many citizens. This is the conclusion which inevitably flows from the nature of the American Constitution as we have explained it."


It will be evident, from these extracts, that British journalists well comprehended the position of affairs in America, and their judg ments, for that reason, are worthy of attention. Americans, absorbed in the events of the hour and swayed by the feelings of partisans, could not be expected to pronounce a disinterested judgment on the revolution; but, those intelligent observers, so far removed from the scene of disaster as to be uninfluenced by its passions or results, could be regarded as reliable arbiters. If, at a future day—when the progress of the revolution had closed Southern ports, had cut off British looms from their supply of cotton and a profitable market for their products the English press allowed its unanimity of condemnation to become broken, it was a pocket, rather than a heart or head, impulse that instigated paragraphs devoted to the Southern cause and Southern interests.

[ocr errors]

Queen Victoria's "Kind Regards."

The Queen of England, at the opening of Parliament, (February 5th,) delivered her annual speech, in the course of which she referred in terms of kindness towards the American people that showed how anxiously the throne regarded the controversy:

"Serious differences have arisen among the States of the North American Union. It is impossible for me to look without great concern upon any events which can affect the happiness and welfare of a people purely allied to my subjects by descent, and closely connected with them by the most intimate and friendly relations. My heartfelt wish is, that these difficulties may be susceptible of satisfactory adjustment. The interest which I take in the wellbeing of the people of the United States cannot but be increased by the kind and cordial reception given by them to the Prince of Wales during his recent visit to the Continent of America."

As the Prince only visited the Northern States and Virginia—and, as the only insult he received was on Slave soil, at Richmond the Northern States did not

hesitate to appropriate to themselves her interest in their "well-being."

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »